Five Cool Tools for PMO

Every so often there’s a time when I think, that’s a really useful cool tool. Then I talk to some of the people at PMO Flashmob – or online in social media groups and they also recommend their stuff too. So I thought, let’s share them on here – and hopefully you’ll add something that you use in the comments section below.

Here’s my recent finds:

Dropbox PaperDropbox Paper

Thanks to Donnie M for this one – we’ve been working on a collaboration and needed to write a document together. He suggested Dropbox Paper – and it really is cool.

So you’re working on a document together – it’s web-based and you can do all the usual word processing stuff – adding links, formatting, just plain good old typing. So far so good.

The cool stuff happens when you can see each other writing at the same time – or just watching what the other person is putting on there.

It just works – there’s no chance of overwriting each others stuff and it’s just easy to get going and use it. Plus you can export whenever you’re ready.

Why I think it’s a good tool for PMO? It’s definitely something your project teams can use if you don’t already have any kind of collaboration software in place – in fact the whole team can use it at once.

DoodleDoodle

Thanks to Eileen for this one. Doodle takes that really annoying job of trying to get people together for a meeting just that little bit easier. I wish I had this years ago when I was a Project Administrator trying to organise project meetings for over 20 people!

Basically it’s an “easy scheduling” tool. You know roughly what dates and times you have available for a meeting. In Doodle you can add all those various dates and times – you can add the location and a little bit about the meeting if you like too.

When you’re done it generates a URL – like this one.

You send the URL to everyone who you need to be at the meeting and they essentially add in their name and choose which date and time works best for them.

Easy scheduling!

Post-It Notes+

What a fantastic idea and something available in your smart phone. Thanks to @zakiyya_c she’s based in South Africa and last week on #pmchat she shared a presentation with me called “PMO Hacks in the Digital Era”* sounds alright doesn’t it?

So basically you’re at a meeting, there’s loads of post-it notes going on the wall. You’re going take pictures of them aren’t you? Well make sure you use this app because it is fantastic. It basically allows you to manipulate those post-it notes post capture! Then you can add stuff to them and then share it – it’s easy to add them into a Powerpoint file to share with the attendees.

Surely this has got to be one of the things the PMO has been waiting for??

Post-It

PushBulletPushBullet

Another one from @zakiyya_c (I do love Twitter and #pmchat when you get great stuff like this from people’s own toolboxes!) and already PushBullet is saving me acres of time and less frustration. PushBullet enables you to connect up all your devices – desktop, iPads, smartphones – and essentially share stuff between them. This is the bane of my life (ok well modern life!).

I can be sat working on something on the iPad and I take a photo of something with the phone – I want to use the photo I’ve taken with the phone and put it into the notes I’m making on the iPad. With PushBullet I can now get that photo onto the iPad with a push of a button (don’t ask me why I don’t take a picture with the iPad – it looks ridiculous when people hold up iPads to take photos!)

I’ve not finished exploring PushBullet but you can easily see why this is a time saver for the modern worker.

PushBullet

 

NotabilityNotability

I often get asked about a good note taking app for the iPad. After faffing about with loads of different types over the years I think I’ve found the one! I’m using it with an Apple pencil which really does work and I couldn’t do without it now. With Notability, any notes I’m making are automatically packed up to Dropbox in PDF format so I’m able to share those notes with anyone immediately.

What I like about it is the simplicity of writing, the ability to add in images, link to a website and then bring in the front page of that website, and of course easily back up and store notes. Oh and I love the fact you can import anything – a PDF for example of a whitepaper and make notes on that too.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Example from a training course, notes from the handbook and a webpage that was mentioned

 

Notes from a PMO lecture – the slides were available beforehand so adding notes as we went along

 

MS Excel

OK, OK, nothing special here – but it still is THE tool of choice for the PMO. At the last PMO Flashmob we were talking about tools for the PMO and Lorna (thank you!!) mentioned that she just “chandoos it” with anything Excel related.

So basically it’s about getting more out of MS Excel and this is one of the website recommendations for learning about how to do that.

So head over there and have a look, you’ll be on your way to being “awesome” with Excel in no time

>> Chandoo.org

Chandoo

 

 

So here’s the latest things I’ve come across and have been using. Got any to share with us? What do you use when working in the PMO? Any PMO hacks to share?

Leave a comment below – let’s get sharing.

 

* Want to have a look at the PMO Hacks in the Digital Era presentation? Download it here

About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob. She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast

3 comments

  1. #1 Slack is the number 1 tool for me. Helps build a community where people are distributed and may not even have met. My team is split between 3 US offices, 3 UK offices and Amsterdam for good measure. Slack gives us a chance to keep in touch as a group.

    #2 Confluence is where we share exemplars and reference material.

    #3 Also a nod for Trello. We’re using that to track OKRs.

  2. Ken Burrell

    I have a few more to add to the mix:

    • Microsoft Surface, Surface Pen and OneNote.
    With these tools (OneNote is probably already on your Windows PC), I can take handwritten notes in a meeting. I am a fairly noisy typist so it’s much less intrusive than typing. As long as I write relatively neatly my notes are instantly searchable. There is no need to run a “convert-to-text” feature (although that is also avaialable). I can use different pen colours, highlighting, draw pictures, etc. If I prefer I can type. At the end of the meeting I can email a PDF straight from OneNote. Various page templates are available for different “paper” backgrounds, meeting minutes, etc.

    • Microsoft OfficeLens (search for it on the relevant app store)
    Comes as a free app for iOS, Android, and Windows 10. You know when you are in a workshop and you want to take pictures of the flip charts or the projector screen? You know how you can never get the right angle to take a decent picture? OfficeLens looks for rectangles in the camera viewfinder, works out what you are trying to take a picture of, corrects the distortions and gives you proper rectangular pictures you can drop into a report. You can set it up to send the pictures to OneNote and have them appear in your documents.

    Using OneNote and OfficeLens, I was recently at the Business Driven PMO MasterClass and was able to take handwritten notes during the workshop on my Surface, take pictures of the projector screen on my phone, and have the pictures appear in OneNote on my surface a few minutes later.

    • Trello (www.trello.com)
    Free web and iOS app that enables you to create boards comprising lists of cards. Create items, group them together in lists, assign due date, add labels, notes and assign them them to users (with prompts). Mark as complete. Filter in various ways (including proximity of due date). Easily configurable to use as a Kanban board (ToDo/Doing/Done). Free for a limited number of users. Could be configured to work as a basic PPM system?

    • Droptask (www.droptask.com)
    Similar idea to Trello but much more visual. Web and iOS apps. Create items, group them together, assign due date, priority, urgency, effort, status, (not started/in progress/on hold/done), add tags, commentary and assign them them to users (with prompts). Filter in various ways. And it’s pretty to look at. Could be configured to work as a basic PPM system?

  3. Johnny Housego, Malthouse PPM Limited

    I tend to agree with Ken and his choice of tools, particularly the Surface. I was a committed Apple user for 20+ years and during the past five years have worked hard to be as paperless as possible. I used an iPad with Notability to keep notes, annotate documents etc but was frustrated at the processes I needed to run through to keep things in sync, I then tried a Microsoft Surface combined with OneNote and Office 365 and haven’t looked back. I’ve even ditched my iPhone and moved to a Samsung S8 which with the right dock can actually work as a reasonable laptop replacement (believe it or not).

    Apple used to have the market in mobile tech cornered, but I think it’s loosing that position and with the enhancements in Office 365 combined with tools such as Surface, that will only continue.

    One of the issues caused by the multitude of collaboration type tools is data security. Many of the cloud based tools are often set up as a form of shadow IT by project teams with a complete lack of governance around their use, particularly the joiner/mover/leaver processes of people on the project team, therefore placing the organisation at some risk of data loss, or worse still theft of critical data or their IP. Tools in this category include Slack, Trello, Jira, Confluence. All great tools, but difficult to manage if you care about data security and allow them to be set up by remote teams and not provision and supported by your IT teams.

    Microsoft has been quietly releasing enhancements to Office 365 and recently Teams and Planner have helped bridge a number of gaps in their capability. Teams is a Slack like, persistent chat tool. It’s great for collaboration across project teams and has the advantage of storing files in your O365 SharePoint, meaning when a project is closed down, collateral remains available. It can link seamlessly with OneNote, OneDrive and the other core O365 suite. Planner is newish too and is a great replacement for Trello being a Kanban like tool. The advantage of these integrated tools, all under your O365 governance is clear. I’ve recently starting using just this set of tools in a new client and early results are really positive. Files are easily retrieved, version control is well managed, data is available on a number of devices all controlled by SSO or MDM technology.

    Combining these new tools with an agnostic delivery framework means PMOs can truly become value add in the programme delivery space with a set of adaptable tools, relevant and suitable for the job in hand.

    About the author: Johnny Housego has 25+ years’ experience in IT management, programme and project management and provides consultancy services for PPM setup and running, recovery and programme management. He can be contacted at johnny@malthouse-ppm.com.

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